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Meeting the Needs of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is not a benign disease and should be evaluated and treated as soon as possible after diagnosis. While early recognition and early referral are key, any patient with atrial fibrillation can benefit from a cardiac evaluation by the cardiologists and electrophysiologists at the Heart Rhythm Clinic at AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute. The goal is to return the patient back into normal sinus rhythm as quickly as possible if indicated, and manage the risk for stroke and other serious consequences. If one approach is not working, the care team can quickly move on to another strategy. All treatment options are on the table—from medication, to device placement, to surgical ablation procedures.

Once referred to the AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute, a patient with atrial fibrillation will undergo a comprehensive evaluation, including electrocardiography. Longer-term monitoring, either 24-hour or 30-day, is also available to more closely evaluate each patient’s dysrhythmia and examine the frequency and patterns of atrial fibrillation episodes. The initial evaluation also includes a structural and functional cardiac assessment with an echocardiogram and a stress test, and an examination of any underlying causal factors, such as coronary artery disease, that should be addressed as part of the overall treatment plan.

The AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute also welcomes patients who arrive at our facilities having already gone through a heart rhythm evaluation with their cardiologist. In these cases, the Heart Rhythm Clinic team would collaborate closely with the referring cardiologist to review the test results and potential treatment options, and meet with the patient to discuss medical versus surgical options.

The AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute offers both standard approaches and leading-edge procedures for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. The team stays up-to-date on the incremental advances being made in the field of cardiac dysrhythmias and is making these advances available to patients, ensuring they are receiving care at the leading-edge of medical science, even while staying close to home in a community setting. Recent advances at the AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute Heart Rhythm Clinic include implementation of new catheters, software systems, and force-sensing technologies to improve ablation procedure protocols and patient outcomes. Additional advances include the implementation of hybrid ablation protocols, in which the electrophysiologist and cardiac surgeon coordinate to perform a combination of catheter ablation and surgical ablation.

The electrophysiologists at the AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute are also working towards offering zero fluoroscopy atrial fibrillation ablation procedures. For years, specialists have relied on fluoroscopic information to guide ablative procedures. The team recognized that fluoroscopy was not absolutely necessary to perform ablative surgery and that reducing or eliminating it would decrease X-ray exposure to both patients and surgeons. The surgical team has maintained excellent patient outcomes since implementing low fluoroscopy ablation protocols for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Consider referring your patients with atrial fibrillation for a comprehensive evaluation with the team at the AMITA Health Heart & Vascular Institute.

Francisco Aguilar, MD, FACC, FHRS

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Mohammed Khan, MD

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Taral K. Patel, MD, FHRS

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